Published On: Mon, Dec 7th, 2015

14 Dirty Photos That Show Why Soil Matters

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1Let’s face it: we treat soil like dirt. And for all our sakes, we shouldn’t.

That’s the sweeping conclusion of the Status of the World’s Soil Resources Report, the United Nations’ first worldwide assessment of the Earth’s soils. The sobering analysis—announced on Friday, 2015’s World Soil Day—underscores the difficulties facing the overlooked loamy mat that dusts our planet’s landforms.

“It’s like the air or water, giving a whole range of ecosystem services to all of us,” says Luca Montanarella of the European Union’s Institute for Environment and Sustainability, who served as the report’s lead author. “When people look out the window,” however, “they see the landscape—they don’t look below ground.”